COMEDIC CLASSIC: Delivering a fantastic performance in Essgee's Pirates of Penzance at the Empire Theatre is (from left) Michael Cormick as The Pirate King,  Alex Woodward as Frederic, and Angela Ponting as Ruth.
COMEDIC CLASSIC: Delivering a fantastic performance in Essgee's Pirates of Penzance at the Empire Theatre is (from left) Michael Cormick as The Pirate King, Alex Woodward as Frederic, and Angela Ponting as Ruth. Contributed

Essgee's Pirates of Penzance offers comedic take on classic

LET'S start with a confession - I knew nothing about Pirates of Penzance before I walked the Empire Theatre stairs on Tuesday night.

Not being a theatre buff, I did know it was 150 years old and that the Essgee production taking centre stage this week has a new orchestration, a local cast and a couple of big names headlining.

What I know now is that missing this production will mean missing out on a high-energy performance, a night of laughs and a standing ovation to the local theatre talent from right here in Toowoomba.

It goes without saying that Michael Cormick as The Pirate King is a stand-out, as well as Alex Woodward mastering his role as Frederic.

For the uninitiated to the Pirates opera, these two told the story as they filled their role, dancing, sword-fighting and singing along.

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Sophie Salvesani, as Mabel, took me back to my very young (and under-appreciated) years at the opera but the stand-out for me were the Toowoomba locals Angela Ponting as Ruth, and Matthew Collins who dominated as Major-General Stanley.

These two delivered the laughs for me, and it's worth getting your tickets to see Collins smash the Modern Major-General song (a 150-year-old rap song for the other non-theatre buffs out there).

Collins, who is no stranger to the Empire Theatre stage, has recently moved back to Toowoomba and casting him in the Major role seems to me a great move.

Which brings me to Ponting and her hilarious hard-of-hearing character of Ruth who, for the entire performance when she's on stage, commands it fully.

Of course, it's an all-in effort with Essgee's Pirates of Penzance which incorporates with comedic effect musical director Craig Renshaw throughout.

I'll leave it to the theatre regulars to review the musical compositions, but from where I was sitting, it was lively and never missed a beat.

It's a show suited to those in the know, and the uninitiated.

Essgee's Pirates of Penzance is playing the Empire Theatre tonight, 6.30pm, Friday at 7.30pm, and Saturday at 2pm and 7.30pm.

Tickets online at empiretheatre.com.au.


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